Friday, October 14, 2011

Khan Academy is the ultimate resource!

playdough math!

This Monday I thought we would mix it up and get more creative with our math.  We began with our morning calendar ritual.   I ask her what is the date today and she should answer with the day, month, date and year... that is our goal anyway and we are getting there.  We have pieces for each answer that I let her choose from a basket and add to the calendar so that she is always identifying the numbers and words that apply.  I never did find a calendar that was clean enough and still had what we were looking for so I ended up picking up some laminated cut outs from Michaels and Target and gluing them to an old magnetic white board we had.  I then glued some magnets to the backs of the numbers, etc.  You get the idea.  She loves the calendar.  In fact, the calendar, including weather, was the only component of school she was concerned about loosing.

On Mondays, we usually work from her mathematical reasoning book with addition using object groups, even/odd numbers, ordinal numbers, etc.  She came upon a number line in one of the exercises and perked up at it's logical method.  She likes it tidy.  So, I thought it was my perfect opportunity to pull out KHAN ACADEMY!  If you don't know about Khan Academy, please stop right now and go to  When I first found it, I had goosebumps.  Really.  It's amazing in its simplicity, philosophy, technology and the fact that it is completely free and not infested with adds and pop-ups makes it irresistible!  Trust me on this, you need it.  There is a beautiful story of its founding to read on the website but I'll try and sum it up.   The founder believes that knowledge should be available to everyone.  The Gates Foundation has invested in the idea, no nonsense.  This isn't a websites for the kiddies either.  The content begins with basic addition and goes through calculus, high level economic concepts, you name it.  In compliment to the extensive, and very organized, lists of topic videos, there is an adaptive software module with questions to practice the skill discussed in the video.  You set-up a free account or use one you already have, I think you can go through facebook, but I used a google account and it will track your progress.  I think you can also access all the tools without having an account, as a guest, really cool for those who don't want to commit. 

We watched the first addition powerpoint presentation together on the TV.  Then I got playdough, number playdough stamps and asked the girls to make three mathematical statements that were true.  Granted, they had previous exposure to the topic but the video showed them some alternative ways to think it out.  I went to the kitchen to make lunch and returned to a wonderful surprise!  They had worked together and ended up with great equations!  Yay!  More importantly, they were practicing without realizing it and having fun all the while.  The difficulty came in when I asked them to squish up their work and pack it up... they wanted to save it forever.  Secretly, of course, so did I.

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